For our inaugural mock draft here at Toto, we decided on selecting closers/relief pitchers that we’d like to see our favorite teams face in critical moments. Closers that we have the utmost confidence will blow the game and send us into a euphoric state. Only relievers who pitched after 1990 were considered. Draft order is as follows:
2. Legend of Ron Coomer
4. Off-Hand Crow Hop
1. HorsebackWadeBoggs- Trevor Hoffman
Why not start at the top? It is one of baseball’s great ironies that the all-time leader in the sport’s foremost clutch statistic is perhaps the least clutch player the sport has ever seen. Lemme list it for you:
-In his first postseason ever, Hoffman closed out the Padres’ season allowing a 2-run homer to Brian Jordan in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1996 Division Series against the Cardinals.
-The 1998 World Series was more or less a formality, but the Padres actually had the Yankees on the ropes in Game 3, until Hoffman came on in the 8th and made a World Series MVP of Scottie Brosius with a massive 3-run homer.
-Who could forget the great 2006 All Star Game? As the broadcast team sang his praises as the soon-to-be all-time saves leader, Hoffman was busy allowing Michael Young to scorch a go-ahead two-run triple that seemed like it almost hit the wall on a straight line on the fly.
-And finally, in one of the most thrilling games in recent memory, at the end of the 2007 regular season the Padres and Rockies faced off in a one-game playoff for the right to go to the postseason. After his Padres scratched out a run in the 8th to tie the game, and scored twice in the 13th to take a two-run lead and were seemingly headed for the playoffs, Hoffman promptly allowed three consecutive extra-base hits to tie the game. The only batter he retired in that game was a game-winning sacrifice fly.
That’s right, folks, this all-time choke artist recorded 554 saves while no one was watching.
2. Legend of Ron Coomer- Latroy Hawkins
In 2001 he became the Twins closer and was lights out for the first half, and then the wheels came off. I don’t think he recorded a single save in the second half after having about 25 in the first half. In fact, stadium ushers would make bets as to how long it would take him to blow a save. La Troy had one pitch: 96MPH heat with no movement.
During college I was at a Cubs game with two friends, and when LaTroy recorded a 1-2-3 ninth against a pathetic Mets team one friend was declaring the era of the Hawk had begun. LaTroy has to hold the record for tricking the most fans into thinking he was a good closer. And he somehow made the WBC team. Although he used to drive a sweet mini-van in his days with the Twins. Seriously. A 6-5 scary looking black man driving around town in a beat up van, might as well just show up at the police station and ask to be arrested.
3. Clubfoot- Shawn Chacon
Where to begin with this pile of hot garbage. Shawn Chacon’s 2004 season will go down in history as the worst statistical season for any closer who saved more than 30 games. Here are the numbers for Chacon…the good 35 saves…the bad 9 blown saves, an ERA of 7.11! His WHIP was 1.94, and while he managed to strike out 52 guys, he also walked 52 as well.
4. Off-Hand Crow Hop- Byung Hyun Kim
I appreciate you all letting the Hanley Ramirez of this draft fall to me at #4. It is rare that a relief pitcher is so bad at relieving that he gets converted to a starter, but BK Kim was able to accomplish this impressive feat AFTER winning a World Series ring AS A CLOSER. His impressive postseason resume (5 series) features a 6.35 ERA, 9 hits, and 8 walks in 11 1/3 innings. It is surely his 2001 postseason that cements him as perhaps the most self-destructive closer of all time.
In June 2001, BK Kim assumed the closer’s role for an Arizona pitching staff featuring two future hall of famers and contributed to the playoff run with a very impressive 2.94/1.04 ERA/WHIP and 113 Ks in 98 innings, collecting 19 saves. It should be noted that he was spared from potential explosions in the NLDS and NLCS by the aforementioned HOFers Schilling and Johnson (combined line in the two series: 51 IP, 29 hits, 7 ER, 58/9 K/BB, 4 CG, 2 SHO).
Yet with New York and the nation reeling from 9/11 and rooting for a Yankees championship, Kim seemed desperate to ensure that it happened. Thwarted from blowing the first three games by two more brilliant Schill/Randy performances (including ANOTHER monstrous 11-strikeout shutout by Johnson in Game 2) and a Yanks win in Game 3, Kim refused to be disheartened; he entered Game 4 with the task of saving a 9 K performance from Schill, and proceeded to give up a game-tying homer to Tino Martinez in the 9th and a game winner in the 10th to Derek Jeter.
With the series tied 2-2, Kim bounced back immediately in Game 5 after 130 pitches of scoreless ball thrown by Arizona pitchers and promptly coughed up a double to Posada and a bomb to Atrocious Brosius. The Yanks would go on to win in the 12th. In Game 7, down 2-1 and desperately needing to stem the bleeding of a blown lead, Bob Brenly ended BK’s hopes for Yankee glory by opting for Randy Johnson, who had thrown 104 pitches the previous night. The DBacks would of course go on to win in comeback fashion, despite BK’s strongest desires for a patriotic Yankee triumph. His post-home run fetal position crouch remains the most memorable moment in Diamondback history, ahead of even a World Series victory.
To put icing on the cake of his brilliant career, BK Kim blew a lead for Korea in the 2006 WBC semifinals, costing them the game and sending him packing back to Rockies Spring Training.
5. Nottalkingaboutthepast- Brad Lidge(Astros Years Only)
In 2004 and 2005, Lidge was pretty much lights out for the Astros, posting 1.90 and 2.29 ERA’s and collecting 71 saves. He made everyone in Houston forget about the glory days of Billy Wagner. In the 2005 playoffs, he was as dominant as ever. He wasn’t touched in 4 innings of work against the Braves in the NLDS, and the Cardinals looked clueless against him until game 5.
In Game 5, he looked as dominant as ever. He had his team within one strike of their first World Series appearance in club history. The SCRAPPY David Eckstein poked a single through the left side, however, to stave off elimination. After making himself look silly swinging at a couple of Lidge sliders, Edmonds somehow worked a walk. Then Pujols stepped up. The second pitch of the at bat was probably one of the biggest hanging sliders Lidge had ever thrown. Pujols demolished the pitch, causing the non-baseball town of Houston to go into collective shock. The Cards won game 5, but were eliminated in game 6, making the story far less interesting. Lidge ended up taking two losses in the Astro’s World Series sweep at the hands of the Guillen led White Sox. I’m not sure if it was the memories of Pujols absolutely mashing the 0-1 pitch, or the incessant playing of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin by the White Sox and their trashy fans, but Lidge didn’t regain his top form until getting out of Houston.
6. Nottalkingaboutthepast- Eric Gagne
In 2004, Gagne notched an MLB record 84thconsecutive successful save conversion, and I’m sure it was closing out a Dodgers win with a 2 or 3 run lead against the 6, 7, 8 guys of some crappy team like the Pirates. The only reason he has that record is that when the streak got long, he only pitched in low leverage saves. It was more important to the Dodgers that they have the streak intact than bring in their “best” reliever to close out the close games. Or maybe they didn’t bring him in because they were afraid that some roid rage would rear its ugly head.
Once he started getting hurt and getting called out for doing HGH, Gagne truly sucked. His stints with the Rangers, Red Sox, and Brewers were awful. He is the poster-child for relief pitchers doing steroids/HGH.
7. Off-Hand Crow Hop- Derrick Turnbow
What’s better than a comeback victory in the 9th off your division rival’s closer? When that closer looks like a pale Lord of the Rings orc with hair like an 8th grade skater and baggy pants 19 sizes too big. Ladies and gentlemen, Derrick Turnbow! One of the more obvious cases of rags to roids to riches and back again, Turnbow came out of nowhere in 2005 with a 1.74 ERA and 39 saves and was my token “midseason closer pickup with more value than the closer you took in the 8thround”. But he must have had a bitter breakup with his roid supplier over the offseason, as he turned in a cool 6.74 ERA withan astounding 1.69 WHIP in 2006, to with 15 more walks in 11 fewer innings, poetically getting elected to his lone All Star Game appearance. His drop in ERA+ of 180 also conveniently describes the change, in degrees, of his pitching ability.On behalf of all fans of NL Central teams, thank you, Derrick Turnbow, for your contribution to the ongoing saga of Delightfully Awful Brewers Closers.
8. Clubfoot- Shingo Takatsu
Shingo burst onto the the scene in 2004 when the White Sox dabbled in the Pacific Rim to fix their closer problems. Shingo parlayed the sox faith into a pretty good season, with his herky-jerky delivery, and his ability to throw pitches between 50mph and 92 mph. His change up was especially good, it rarely got above 65mph and it’s path to the plate resembled a knuckle curve in slow motion. Like many Japanese pitchers the combination of his strange delivery and hilariously slow change up confused MLB batters the first go-around in the league.
This caused the white sox play by play announcer Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson to erupt with delight every time Shingo came in to close the game. He even dubbed Shingo’s changeup “the Frisbee” as in “THROW EM THE FRISBEE SHINGO!” The White Sox Scoreboard Operator also showed his racist tendencies as every time Shingo came in to close the game…a Gong sounded, followed by a video montage of Godzilla clips, complete with the Godzilla sound effects.
This however, would be a brief time on top for Shingo…as AL managers realized that Shingo was horrifically bad against left handed hitters, and that his change up was eminently hittable if batters knew it was coming…and besides his fastball was straight and barely topped 90. After blowing about 8 games in a row he was dumped by the Sox in the middle of the 2005 season..and hasn’t been back in baseball since.
One a side note in MVP Baseball 2005…shingo’s change up was the most unhittable pitch in the game…maybe the biggest markup by a videogame as it related to real life results.
9. Legend of Ron Coomer- Mark Wohlers
Wohlers became the Braves Closer in 1995, and recorded the final out of the Braves 95 World Series. The following season, withe the Braves again in the World Series Wohlers did what he was most famous for. With the Braves leading 6-3 in game 4 (and the series 2 games to 1) Wohlers served up a 3 run, game tying homer to Jim Leyritz. This shifted the momentum of the series which the Yankees went on to win in six games, starting their run of dominance that defined the Torre years. Wohlers was never the same after that homer by Leyritz. He lost all control and in 1998 his ERA in the majors was around 10. He bounced around for a while, spending time with the Reds, Yankees, and Indians. Finally calling it quits in 2002. He did have a kickass mullet though. But many Yankee fans can thank him for jumpstarting their dormant franchise in the late 90s.
10. HorsebackWadeBoggs- Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams
“Touch ‘em all, Joe. You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.” – Tom Cheek, 10/23/1993
Well that’s it for now, we’ll be back with rounds 3-4 sometime later.